Britax Marathon Onyx Convertible Car Seat Reviews
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Britax Marathon Onyx Convertible Car Seat

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Britax Marathon Convertible Car Seat — Back Seat Driving in Complete Comfort

Sep 12, 2009 (Updated Nov 22, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Durability:
  • Ease of Use:

Pros:Safety, safety, safety! Comfortable and roomy; Installation isn't that hard...

Cons:... but it can be frustrating getting it right; cost is high; big and bulky

The Bottom Line:

The Britax Marathon Car Seat seems like an expensive luxury to have but I disagree noting that safety always comes first for any child. Look no further than this one.


One thing I have learned with a young toddler is how they grow out of things very quickly. This was becoming more and more evident with Little Visdo's car seat. When he was born, we received, as a gift, the Graco Deluxe MetroLite Standard Stroller. It's basically a two-for-one device with a car seat that attaches to a stroller. While the stroller is still in use for us, the car seat quickly became too small and uncomfortable for him. The other problem my wife and I needed to address was the type of car seat we both needed. When I say we both needed, this is because we needed one for each of our two vehicles. With the Graco Deluxe MetroLite, all we needed was an extra car base for our cars. But now we realized we needed two car seats considering that I drop him off to daycare in the morning while my wife picks him up in the afternoon. After countless researching, we both realized that the only one we would ever consider getting is the Britax Marathon Convertible Car Seat. Since we needed two, one of the versions we managed to get is the Onyx edition. Let me rephrase that. We received the Onyx version as a gift (and I'm never one to look a gift horse in the mouth).


Why the Britax Marathon?
Out of all the products Britax has to offer, the Marathon was on our short list. In fact, it was really the only one we considered at all for this one very basic yet very important reason-safety. This was the key deciding factor. We read a lot of testimonials from people who not only bought the Marathon but were also in car accidents. Every report indicated that the infant never received a scratch because he or she was strapped into this particular seat. If this doesn't reassure our decision, these two other features on the Marathon did.


1) Five-Point Harness
Any race car driver or fighter pilot will testify how detrimental it is to have a five-point harness system inside the vehicle for their seat. If these professionals advocate having this important safety feature, why wouldn't I want the same for my own child to ensure maximum protection?

The five-point harness, located in the front of the seat, straps a child into the seat over the shoulders/collar bone, around the hips, and in between the legs. The straps can be adjusted to make sure that each child fits comfortably and safely. I thought it was going to be much harder fooling around with these straps in order to get it right but I was impressed with the ease of making these adjustments. There is a Front Harness Adjuster at the front of the seat, under the seat covering, which helps adjust the length of the straps. It is cleverly covered so no child can accidently reach it. By releasing the button, the straps become loose. Once the child is in the seat and strapped in, just pull the strap from the bottom to tighten and secure. For a while, I couldn't figure out how to loosen the straps as Little Visdo was getting bigger but once I discovered this, getting him in and out of his seat has become much easier.

So why is the five-point harness system critical in an accident? Injuries happen when the force of impact is distributed all over the body. The five-point harness ensures that any forceful impact will only be directed towards the strongest parts of the body-in this case, the hips and shoulders. More importantly, the five-point harness will divert any crash impact away from delicate parts of the body. This system for the Marathon was designed to accommodate infants up to 65-pounds. Little Visdo still has a long way to go before reaching that weight class so I know that this seat will still get some good mileage out of it.


2) Side Impact Protection
This really goes hand-in-hand with the five-point harness. While the harness will keep a child from flying through the windshield, the side impact protection will do what the name implies-provide protection to your child during a side impact crash. The seat is designed with a combination of a very rigid shell (I like to think of this as the bulletproof armour) that runs deep on the side walls and foam lining on the shell to absorb the energies from a crash. What it also does is protect the head, neck and body as it distributes the crash force to these vital parts on the car seat.

The "bulletproof armour" is designed to shield a child from coming into contact with any intruding object during the impact of a crash. The deep walls serve to act as barrier. Keep in mind that even a side impact crash doesn't have to make direct contact with the vehicle. Still, you want to keep a child from "rolling" out of the seat; hence, the extra added protection for a child's head and body is vital through the side impact system.


Double-Checking the Installation
Car seats and I have a tumultuous relationship when it comes to installing it in the car. It's not a hard job but it can be a frustrating one if it isn't done right the first time. I find myself readjusting the seatbelt straps to the car seat many times until I feel completely satisfied that it is safely secured. I place my Marathon on the left side of the car in the back seat. We knew that as Little Visdo reached a certain weight, he would be facing forward. The Marathon has both rear and front facing selections. It's just a matter of figuring out which one is the best for your child according to its weight.

I used the lap-shoulder seatbelt to secure the car seat. The most important thing is secure the seatbelt when it's in place with the lock-off latch on the seat. I cannot stress how important this little thing is as it's the difference between making sure the car seat doesn't move to it jostling around. For added safety, I use the Energy-Absorbing Versa-Tether that anchors the top of the car seat to minimize forward movement in a crash. I'm thankful my car has the option to attach this device. If it's not in use, it's conveniently stored in a pouch behind the seat.

One thing that is appreciated is the positioning of the seat. I can adjust it so he sits straight up or more in a reclined position. Either way I have it set, I do notice these two things: first, he is much more comfortable in the Marathon as it gives him lots of maneuverability and room, and second, he always falls asleep whenever he sits in it, which goes back to the first point of being comfortable.

Another thing that I also like is the Harness Ultra Guard System (or HUGS) located on the connecting five-point harness. This adjustable device helps reduce forward head movement and cushions the chest if impact is ever achieved through a car crash. I was oblivious to this feature until I realized how much more secure Little Visdo sits in his seat because of this small adjustment.

Every part of the Marathon can be cared and cleaned for maintenance. The cover can be easily removed and hand washed. Don't machine-wash or dry it at all in fear of it shrinking.


Always Keeping Your Child Protected
I feel better with my son in any of our vehicles knowing that he is safe in his Britax Marathon Car Seat. Getting any car seat requires lots of research but we knew we really needed the best considering we needed two car seats. And why wouldn't you do proper research in the first place? This is your child's life on the line. Responsibility of his or her well-being rests upon the parents making good decisions.

One thing to always do when researching the best car seat for your needs is to see whether or not it is compatible with your vehicle. People assume that all car seats fit in every vehicle. This isn't the case at all and it would be wise to consult with your vehicle's compatibility for any car seat.

Most of the time, people just disregard the instruction booklet or skim through it before understanding the logistics. Do not do that with this car seat. There are a lot of safety notes to be aware of for all types of vehicles, installation processes, and overall guidelines that every parent needs to beware of at all times. That's why it is recommended the instruction booklet remain attached to the seat and tucked under the cover when not in use; therefore, it becomes a handy reference whenever a question needs to be answered.

My wife and I were recently discussing how Little Visdo would be travelling in the airplane when he flies to see his grandparents in Canada next year. Luckily, the Marathon is certified for aircraft use but it's always wise to check beforehand with any aircraft carrier if this is acceptable.

I am glad that we invested in this car seat as it eases my nerves about the safety of my child while he is riding in a vehicle. The price of each car seat is a hefty one, ranging between $225-$300, so be prepared to spend some hard-earned dollars. However, when it comes to the safety and comfort of your child, is there really a price for that at all?


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): gift
Age Range of Child: 12 to 36 Months

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